Chapter Corner

The Mission-Critical Role of Capital Asset Management

Posted in: Features, March 2015

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For many businesses operating in the construction industry today, much of their work relies on the operation of capital assets, such as generators, chillers, transformers, etc. These types of equipment contribute to the business’s ability to properly run and generate profit. It is therefore a major requirement that they remain in operation at all times because if a piece of machinery is down, the detrimental effect on the business is loss of work and, ultimately, income.

Preventing failure is the key to capital asset management, and it is a top priority for businesses operating capital assets today, alongside having a sufficient maintenance service in place. Indeed, the U.S. market in 2013 for “Machinery Maintenance & Heavy Equipment Repair Services” was estimated to be worth $27bn. For the mobile technician tasked with carrying out this responsibility, their role is truly mission-critical. There are many barriers that need to be overcome and customer requirements that need to be met in order to achieve a timely and efficient outcome.

REQUIREMENTS TO PROVIDING A MISSION-CRITICAL SERVICE

The significant costs related to capital asset downtime have led field service providers to adopt more of a preventative and predictive maintenance solution as opposed to previously offering break/fix service structures. Such a solution utilizes accurate real-time equipment data to determine the condition of an asset and emits an alert when maintenance should be performed. The value of this solution lies in its ability to allow convenient scheduling of corrective maintenance and to prevent unexpected equipment failures. According to Aberdeen Group, best-in-class performers (the top 20 percent of organizations) are more than 2.5 times more likely than all others to group multiple preventative tasks for a technician while they are already on a customer site. This proactive service not only prevents more assets from breaking down, it also shows the customer that they are important.

In the event of a capital asset requiring repair, the most common customer complaint is when a technician does not resolve the issue the first time. This may be due to not having the right part or tools, not having the right skills, or not enough time to complete the job. Achieving a “first-time” fix is therefore a priority, and more and more organizations are beginning to realize the value of intelligent scheduling that incorporates technician knowledge, parts availability, and capacity into the scheduling processes to ensure that the technician arriving onsite is actually the person who can resolve the customer’s issue the first time.In the event of a capital asset requiring repair, the most common customer complaint is when a technician does not resolve the issue the first time. 

More than half of best-in-classorganizations use service performance data to evaluate the effectiveness of scheduling criteria. Indeed, by leveraging performance management analytics tools, easily digestible performance reports can be generated and customized to showcase the key metrics of a field operation. Field service managers can identify the most productive performers, determine which schedules and routes produce the best results, and compare results from one vehicle or worker against the entire workforce. Performance analysis can also help with job assignments so managers can better match the skills of field technicians to specific service calls. This increases the prospect of first-timecase resolution.

Essentially, in the event of a capital asset requiring maintenance or repair, a major requirement from the customer is to have high-level contact with the technician and to know the precise time that they will be arriving onsite so that they know exactly when to power down and prepare the asset for service. Timeliness and communication are key to providing the customer with the level of service needed to mitigate the time that the asset will need to be out of action and avoid any unnecessary costs.

HOW CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP?

Field service technology can help significantly in capital asset management and provides mobile technicians tasked with this role to manage it successfully the first time, every time.

Field service technology providesreal-time visibility into day-to-day field operations, which allows fleet operators and dispatchers to make intelligent scheduling decisions. Real-time location intelligence and trip management tools embedded in the system can optimize route planning, reduce unscheduled stops, and allocate tasks to the technician best suited for a job. Such capabilities allow mobile workers to respond to customer requests as quickly and as efficiently as possible and improve productivity by increasing the number of jobs completed per day. This is particularly beneficial for mobile technicians visiting construction sites because they are often tasked with additional jobs on arrival which they have not accounted for. Therefore being able to save time elsewhere can result in more time with a customer and reduced risk of being late or missing upcoming appointments.

Ultimately, the support of technology can significantly improve the management of capital assets and for the technician, is essential for meeting customer requirements and delivering a mission- critical service. In construction industries today, businesses cannot afford to have inoperable assets, so the support of a solution to help technicians maintain, fix, and improve the longevity of a capital asset is of the utmost importance.

John Cameron is general manager of Trimble Field Service Management (FSM), an IEC National Platinum Partner, where he is responsible for worldwide operations and development. Prior to joining FSM, Cameron was general manager of Trimble’s Spectra Precision Division and before that general manager of Pacific Crest Corp., a company heco-founded in 1994 that was acquired by Trimble in 2005. In addition to his recent experience, he has held positions at Applied Materials, Inc., and Pinpoint Corp., where he was co-founder and vice president. Cameron holds a bachelor’s degree with highest honors in mechanical engineering from University of California Berkeley and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.